My name is Rachel. I am married to the love of my life, whom I met at my seventeenth birthday party. Over a distance of four hundred miles, before cell phones and right on the cusp of e-mail, we quickly became best friends, fell in love, and then not-so-quickly got married five years later. Nine years and four beautiful babies later, we’re still best friends.
Setting: Beautiful, clear, slightly cool, fall day in a small Midwestern town.
Plot Summary: Unexpectedly, my heart explodes with happiness and gratefulness. Tears sting my eyes as I realize why I, and every other parent, does the things we do everyday.
Let me start earlier in the day. My Love leaves for work as I get our four Little Loves up and ready. Tired children want me to help them dress, which I know is a ploy for a little one-on-one attention to start the day. I happily accommodate. Little Love #3 is in a stubborn mood and would rather not change out of her jammies just yet. No problem, dear. I’ve learned to chose my battles carefully.
Teeth brushed, breakfast eaten, and we’re out the door. We’re loaded in the minivan to take the older two to school. As usual, Eleanor who is still in her jammies with a coat for warmth, sheds a tear at not being able to run onto the playground with her brother and sister. Back home, we clean up breakfast and greet our daycare friends. The morning goes on as usual.
All of a sudden, I realize Eleanor has a field trip to the apple orchard with her preschool class that afternoon. My mind works frantically trying to think of what to do.
To understand the dilemma, you must know about my Get Kids Home From School Situation. The neighborhood elementary school gets out fifteen minutes before the other-side-of-town preschool. My first grader and Kindergartener walk home with a 5th grade neighbor, taking about 15 minutes. Since I take daycare kids with me, and I don’t have a 15-passenger van, I pick up Eleanor early from preschool and drive back home in time for the older kids to arrive.
The apple orchard threw a monkey wrench into my routine because I knew the field trip bus wouldn’t get back early enough for me to pick up Eleanor and get back home before the older kids. I stressed out about it the rest of morning. My usual daycare back-ups were not available this particular day. I had told Andrew and Josephine previously that if I wasn’t back from preschool before they got home to let themselves in and behave nicely until I got there, probably in a minute or two. No one else could pick up Eleanor, no one else could be home waiting for Andrew and Josephine. I had too many daycare kids and not enough seats in the car to pick up Andrew and Josephine and then go get Eleanor. The only way I could think to handle the situation was to be waiting for the field trip bus and hope it got back early enough.
I got Eleanor dressed finally. She wanted a red shirt with a skirt but I convinced her to wear a shirt that went better with the tights. After lunch, we were off to preschool. Back home once again, naps for the Littles. After naps, we loaded into the van yet again, drove to preschool and waited for the bus. And waited. And waited. My heart was fluttering with nerves. I hadn’t even gotten a chance to warn my older two that I may not make it back in time that day. Our kids had never been without supervision. I started biting my nails.
Finally, the bus pulled up. I watched the kids, flush with excitement from the outing, file off the bus and into the classroom. Hey, wait a minute. They’re all wearing red shirts. Bad mommy. I forgot the newsletter had said to wear red that day. That was the color she’d wanted to wear. Why did I pick out a different one again? There’s my girl, a brown shirt amongst the sea of red. I grab Eleanor’s hand, make sure the teacher sees that I’m taking her, and head out. I have daycare kids with me so I can’t speed. My heart is racing enough for me and the car, though. I can’t get rid of this panic that my kids will be scared or freaked out or feel alone if they come home to an empty house.
Finally, we turn on to our street. Go another block. My heart sinks. I would have seen them walking already if they didn’t beat me home. I see our house. The front door is open. My heart sinks further. I pull into the driveway, park, and before I even get the kids out of the car, I must let my Little Loves #1 and #2 know that I am home. I run to the front step, swing open the storm door, and see their backpacks on the rug. Andrew is getting himself a cup of water and Josephine is going through papers she brought home that day. They’re not panicking like I am. They’re fine. They’re even nonchalant. I breath a sigh of relief. I give them hugs. I tell them I’m sorry for not being there when they got home.
Josephine helps me get the kids from the car. She was the one I was most worried about. She’s our little freaker-outer. She’s a mother hen and always makes sure everyone is safe. I was worried she would be crying when she saw that I wasn’t there. As we’re walking back to the house, I tell her, “Josie, I’m very proud of you for not being upset that I wasn’t home right away.”
My little 5 year old angel, who has always had a way with words, shrugged and said, “I knew there was love in the house.”
My heart stopped and so did my feet. No breath filled my lungs. Tears stung my eyes. A simple sentence. Simple, common words, strung together in a way that made me see my whole life differently. “I knew there was love in the house.” I didn’t know that that was what I was striving for, but there it was. My life’s purpose. This is what it means to be in the midst of raising happy, healthy kids.
“I knew there was love in the house.”
All of a sudden the past six and three-quarter years of me staying home with our kids made sense. I always knew it was worth it but the beautiful words from my beautiful daughter gave me a clear definition of what my job and my life is truly about. Love in the house. Who could ask for more? The things I do, the things I sew, the spaces in our home we’re trying to beautify . . . it all helps create a feeling of love in the house.
I’d been toying with the idea of starting a blog. Many friends had been encouraging me to do so. I struggled to find a focus for it. Would I write about sewing? Would I write about parenting? I want to chronicle our family life, too, but would people get bored reading that? So many facets of life, only one blog. How could I make it cohesive? Love in the house. Once Josephine said it, so many things clicked into place. One of those things was this blog. I want to make Love in the House a place for it all: a chronicle of our adventures, my interest in photography, my love of creating spaces and things to be enjoyed, our love of travel. Our house is a place that encompasses everything we love, why not my blog home?
I hope you enjoy reading my little corner of the web as much as I look forward to writing it. Please leave comments and tell me who you are so we can get acquainted. What kind of home would Love in the House be, if not a gathering place for all?